Sam Darnold, DeShone Kizer
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

After dumping Le’Veon Bell, can this New York Jets team make history by going 0-16 to join the 2017 Browns and 2008 Lions?

Five-game start

2020 Jets
  • -17.2 point differential (worst in 2020 NFL through 5 games)
  • 15.0 points per game (worst)
  • 32.2 points per game allowed (2nd worst)
  • 0 losses by 8 points or less
  • 3 losses by 17 points or more
2017 Browns
  • -9.4 point differential (2nd worst in 2017 NFL through 5 games)
  • 15.4 points per game (2nd worst)
  • 24.8 points per game allowed (7th worst)
  • 3 losses by 8 points or less
  • 1 loss by 17 points or more
2008 Lions
  • -16.6 point differential (2nd worst in NFL)
  • 15.2 points per game (4th worst)
  • 31.8 points per game (2nd worst)
  • 1 loss by 8 points or less
  • 3 losses by 17 points or more

The 2017 Browns actually did not get off to that bad of a start, dropping three games by three points apiece within their first five games – an 18-21 loss to the eventual 13-win Steelers in Week 1, a 28-31 loss at the Colts in Week 3, and a 14-17 loss against the Jets in Week 5. In fact, Cleveland’s defense ranked 10th-best in yards per play allowed (5.1) through five games. They were somewhat decent on defense to start the year, something the 2020 Jets and 2008 Lions cannot claim on either side of the ball.

The 2020 Jets’ start more closely mirrors the 2008 Lions, who also lost three games by at least 17 points and had a very similar point differential. However, even the Lions managed to come close in one of their first five games, falling by two points on the road to a Vikings team that ended up going 10-6. The Jets’ best game this season was a nine-point loss – at home to a cross-country-traveling 0-3 Broncos team on its third-string quarterback and without its best pass-rusher or receiver. Ouch.

Running back

Let’s dig into each position and compare all three teams head-to-head. The numbers seen for the Browns and Lions represent their production through all 16 games, while the Jets’ numbers represent their production through five games in 2020. The color codes reflect how each metric compares to the league average – red is bad, gray is average, and green is good.

To kick things off, we’ll look at the position where the Jets took a massive hit last night with the release of Le’Veon Bell.

Top players (most carries followed by second-most):

Here is how all three teams’ running back duos compare:

New York Jets

Without Bell, the Jets’ backfield looks brutal. Gore and Perine have struggled mightily thus far. Cleveland actually had a solid backfield led by Crowell and Duke Johnson. Detroit had a mediocre pair with the rookie Smith and the veteran Rudi Johnson, who retired after the season (an uncanny parallel to Gore/Perine).

Wide receiver

Top players (ordered from most targets to 5th-most):

Here is how the trio compares at wide receiver – these stats include all targets to wide receivers, not just the players listed above:

The Browns were a complete mess at wide receiver. The Jets and Lions are able to save face a little bit on the strength of their stars – Calvin Johnson for Detroit and Jamison Crowder for New York – but both teams are so bad at the position beyond their No. 1 weapon that their overall numbers at wide receiver still look absolutely brutal.

Quarterback

For the QB comparison, we will use Sam Darnold for the Jets, DeShone Kizer for the Browns (15 starts), and the combination of Dan Orlovsky (7 starts), Daunte Culpepper (5 starts), and Jon Kitna (4 starts) for the Lions. Here is how they compare:


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